CID warns women against romance, other scams

| December 7, 2012 | 0 Comments

U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command
News Release

QUANTICO, Va. — Special agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command are once again warning Internet users to be vigilant and not to fall prey to scams or impersonation fraud, especially ones promising true love that end up breaking hearts and bank accounts.

CID continues to receive hundreds of reports of various scams involving persons pretending to be Soldiers serving in Afghanistan or somewhere else in the world.

The victims are most often unsuspecting women, 30 to 55 years old, who think they are romantically involved on the Internet with an American Soldier, when in fact they are being cyber-robbed by perpetrators thousands of miles away.

“We cannot stress enough that people need to stop sending money to persons they meet on the Internet and claim to be in the U.S. military,” said Chris Grey, CID spokesman. “It is heartbreaking to hear these stories, over and over again, of people who have sent thousands of dollars to someone they have never met — and sometimes have never even spoken to on the phone.”

The majority of the romance scams are being perpetrated on social media, dating-type websites where unsuspecting females are the main targets. The perpetrators will often take the true rank and name of a Soldier who is honorably serving his country somewhere in the world, marry that up with some photographs of a Soldier off the Internet, and then build a false identity to begin prowling the Net for victims.

“We have even seen instances where the Soldier was killed in action, and the crooks have used that hero’s identity to perpetrate their twisted scam,” said CID Special Agent Matthew Ivanjack, who has fielded hundreds of calls and emails from victims.

The scams often involve carefully worded romantic requests for money from the victim to purchase special laptop computers, international telephones, military leave papers and transportation fees to be used by the fictitious “deployed Soldier,” so the false relationship can continue.

Once victims are hooked, the criminals continue their ruse.

“We’ve even seen instances where the perpetrators are asking the victims for money to purchase “leave papers” from the Army, help pay for medical expenses from combat wounds or help pay for their flight home so they can leave the war zone,” said Grey.

Along with the romance-type scams, CID has received complaints of other types of scams with a cyber crook impersonating a U.S. service member. One version usually involves the sale of a vehicle. After sending bogus information regarding the vehicle, the seller requests the buyer complete a wire transfer to a third party to complete the purchase. In reality, the entire exchange is a ruse for the crook to get the wire transfer and leave the buyer high and dry — with no vehicle.

Army CID is warning people, once again, to be very suspicious if they begin a relationship on the Internet with someone claiming to be an American Soldier.

“These are not Soldiers; they are outright thieves,” said Grey. “If someone asked you out on a first date, and before they picked you up, they asked you for $3,000 to fix their car, to come get you, many people would find that very suspicious and certainly would not give them the money. This is the same thing, except over the Internet.”

Reporting thefts to the Federal Trade Commission helps law enforcement officials across the U.S. in their investigations.

Category: Army News Service, News

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